Enjoy The Silence


Shhhhh ….


Can you hear it? Can you hear it?

Can you hear nothing at all?

Can you just enjoy the silence….?

I was at a yoga class last week. A nice sunny evening, so we decided to do the class outside. On the lawn. Which is astro-turf, and full of ants. So as you might imagine, my mind was distracted anyway. I’m not terribly good at the whole focus and mindfulness thing, even though I do practise. It evades me.

And as we settle in, scan our bodies and get in tune with ourselves, focussing on the breath – like all good yoga practitioners do – we were encouraged to ‘enjoy the silence’. And the more I tried to enjoy the silence, the more I could hear. Planes overhead. Birdsong. Cars starting. Police sirens wailing in the background. Children laughing somewhere (up to no good, I imagined). My class members fidgeting and breathing and the gurgling of their bellies. An occasional fart (oops, apologies.)

And my heart. Beating.

I haven’t enjoyed the silence sine the heart operation almost two years ago, and the installation of a mechanical heart valve following my heart breaking, tearing apart from the stresses and strains of ordinary life.

In recovery, I thought I was imagining it. That the anxiety and trauma had fixated me on the sound of my heartbeat, thumping around my head and not  my body. A self-imposed marching rhythm, a private dialogue that I had punished my frailty with.

No. It’s real. The loud and regular workings of a mechanical valve – my audible bionics. Sometimes unnoticeable, sometimes deafening when all around is silent. In the middle of the night, when I wake from a night terror, or at the buzz of a morning alarm, it seems to boom around the house, like the woodpecker boring into a tree I heard in our spinney last week. It’s loud and inescapable. For me, it’s the sound of life. As important as the sound of my breath, of involuntary farts, of gasps at scary movies and the moans of lovemaking. The Universal Om.

And I yearn for silence. I want the only noise to be that which is around me, that I can tune in to the soft heartbeat in a lover’s chest as I rest my head on their chest on a lazy Sunday morning. The dawn chorus, the last note of a song sung and finished.

And yet, I dread the silence. It will be the loss of life, the end of days. As long as there’s the click of a valve, the turning over of life itself, I know I’m still here. I know that every part of me is still engaged, still journeying through life and all of its noise and music and tears and laughter. The fall of the surf and the wind in the trees. The alarm of the bell, the march of boots, the baby’s cry. Dog whistles out of my range, tremors on other planets and in different galaxies.

It’s all there, in the heartbeat. The constant sound of life, and of ┬áliving.

Enjoy the silence?

No. C’mon, feel the Noize…